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Are you ready to make therapy so much easier? Duh- that’s why you clicked on the post, right? Stay tuned. By the end of this post, you will have so many tips and tricks in your tool bag to make therapy super easy for you and your child!!
Therapy is necessary when you have a child special needs. It just comes with the territory. Your child might have 1 therapist or 12 at any given time. Either way, therapy comes with goals and things to work on with your child at home. Let’s be real, they need therapy a good 5x a week or more and they might only see their therapist once a week or even as little as twice a month. That’s not enough, so your therapist sends home homework to work on in between appointments.
My daughter has had as many at 6 therapists at one time. I drove myself crazy trying to keep up with it all. I remember so many times getting overwhelmed with therapy. The mom guilt was high every single time the therapist asked what we have worked on since the last visit. I knew there had to be a way to make it easier for me AND my daughter.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make therapy easier for you AND your child because therapy doesn’t have to take over your life!
1. Be calm and relaxed
If you are stressed out and worked up, it will come across in your actions and will NOT make for a good therapy routine. You have to get in a calm more relaxed state for therapy. Don’t come to your therapy sessions with an already bad attitude.
2. Drop perfectionism
There isn’t a need for perfectionism in therapy. It doesn’t serve you or your child. You don’t need to worry about your child being perfect, or you for that matter. When you're too busy focused on perfectionism, it's hard to make progress because you're being so nit-picky about everything and so wound up when something isn’t perfect.
3. Have toys and rewards for therapy time ONLY
This makes it so much easier for your child. If they have a favorite book, game, or activity, save it for therapy. They know they like the activity and know you do it in therapy which makes them almost look forward to therapy. For example, my daughter is obsessed with stickers right now. So, I went to Target Dollar Spot and got a bunch of stickers. She knows the stickers only come out during therapy time. This helps keep the novelty of what they like. They won’t get as excited about it if they see it all the time. They know they only get stickers during therapy and it makes them look forward to therapy time.
4. Sneak therapy into playtime or what you're already doing
If your child is loving playing pretend Chef right now, weave your therapy into Chef time. While they are playing Chef, sneak some therapy into their play. For example, if your child’s goal is crossing midline or using their left hand more, ask them to hand you something using their left hand while they are playing Chef. If your child loves coloring, ask them to identify the colors of the crayons while they’re coloring.
If you’re cooking dinner and your child is learning how to use a fork, pull up a highchair or whatever and put some of what you're cooking on the tray and let them practice picking it up with their fork.
While you’re driving down the road, ask them to identify the trees, sky, etc. Just think about what goals your child has and the things they’re learning in therapy and work it into your everyday life. You don’t always have to have a certain time set aside for therapy.
5. Make it a game
Make the therapy activity a game. “Compete” against your child, invite a sibling to compete, or let them play the game by themselves. For example, when my daughter was learning to sit up by herself, we let her practice on the bed. If she sat up by herself, she got to throw herself back fast and yell “Timber” really loud. This sounds so simple, but kids are easily entertained. LOL! By doing it on the bed, we didn’t have to worry about her hitting her head.
Now, she is OBSESSED with this pig game and we weave that into her therapy time. She uses the pig more like a piggy bank instead of actually playing the game. So, when she does a modified push up, she gets a hamburger. When therapy is over, she gets to put all of the hamburgers into the pig’s mouth. She also has to lift herself off the ground and hold her body up mid-air for a goal too. So, we use this Buzz Lightyear toy for that. She has to lift herself up in the air to “activate” Buzz and make his lights come on. The movement she stops lifting herself up, Buzz goes off. (Note: I bought this one from the Disney store for half the price of the Amazon model).
You can do this with any of your child’s therapy goals. You can make anything into a game.
Figure out what you need to be doing. Ask your therapists for the list of things they want you to do on you row at home and how often they want you to do them. Make these items your main focus.
7. Use a Therapy Checklist
Using a therapy checklist (get yours below) will save your sanity!!! This will help you know what you need to work on and when. It will also help you know what you worked on and what you didn't. This is a game-changer because it makes the goals actionable. Just writing them down in a notebook won't help you. You need to define what to do when to do it, and how often. This checklist takes all the guesswork out of it. It makes it easier. We all know, when you’re as busy as you are, easy wins every day of the week. It makes it more likely to get done because you know it isn’t complicated.
8. Realize your child is perfect right now just as they are
This sounds so duh, but it’s true. If your child doesn’t get the thing, you’re trying to help them, they’re still worthy and so are you. If they don’t get it, that doesn’t make you a bad mom. Now, this doesn’t mean stop trying, this just takes the pressure off wanting them to perfect the thing so you can move on to the next item on the list. This helps you FULLY accept their disability. They are how they are. They were already born perfect. You don’t need to “fix” them. The point of therapy is to help them be more independent and do things for themselves. It helps them get stronger.
Take my daughter for example. She has spina bifida. A lot of people with spina bifida walk with the help of adaptive equipment. A lot of people with spina bifida don’t walk and use their wheelchair. I used to tie my worth as a mom and a human to if my daughter could walk or not. I wasn't looking at her getting mad at her for not walking. I thought since some people with spina bifida could walk if she couldn't walk that meant I totally sucked as a mom because I didn't try as hard to help her walk like the other kids’ moms.
This sounds totally irrational, but it’s what I thought for so long! Give yourself and your kid a break and look at the bigger picture. We want our kids to grow up to be as independent as possible. They can still be independent if they don’t walk. They can still be that if they talk through a speech assistance device. Them not walking or talking does not mean they can’t be independent, or you suck as a mom!
9. Realize there is no such thing as behind
This absolutely blew my mind when I realized this. Your child is on the right path they’re supposed to be on. They are where they are supposed to be. They shouldn’t be “farther ahead” than they are right now. They were always meant to start talking at 3 or walking at 4 ½. They are not behind. They will get it if and when they’re supposed to get it. They will walk when they are meant to walk. They will talk when they are meant to talk. They aren’t behind.
Think about how many moms start going to school when they are older and already have kids. They were never meant to go to college at 18. They were ALWAYS meant to start college at 32. They aren’t behind. They are on the right path for them. Drop this belief immediately because it doesn’t serve you or your child.
10. Be consistent
This is so important!! You have to be consistent with therapy. It is better to consistently do it 2x a week than to do it 4x this week and none next week. Your child loves routines and it is easier for them to get the hang of things when it's consistent. I can tell with my daughter. When we work on her food goals on a regular basis, she doesn't fight back as much as when we start and stop so many times.
11. Get ideas from therapists and moms
Get ideas from therapists and other moms about the different ways to do the therapy goals. For each therapy goal, your child has, write all the ways they can do that one goal. This will help you switch it up and ensure your child isn’t doing the same thing day in and day out. They can accomplish the same goal but doing it in a different way each time.
12. Let go of limiting beliefs
A limiting belief is a thought believe to be true that doesn’t serve you. It holds you back and doesn’t help you move forward.
Here are some examples of limiting beliefs about therapy.
- I don’t have enough time.
- I am not good enough to do therapy at home.
- I don’t have a degree in therapy, so it makes it harder for me.
- My child always gets mad during therapy.
- Therapy stresses me out.
- My child will NEVER get this.
- I feel like we always fight during therapy.
- I am a failure at therapy.
- Therapy is just too hard.
The list can go on and on and on again. Drop these beliefs because they don’t serve you. They don’t help you help your child reach their therapy goals.
Go easy on yourself and your child, Mama. Just work through the steps, use the Therapy Checklist, be consistent, and know everything will happen when it’s supposed to happen.
And while you’re here, you might as well go on and grab your free copy of the therapy checklist. It’s free and it will help you master therapy in no time flat. It will help you take the fuss and confusion out of therapy so you can help your child master their therapy goals like a boss!